You remember those scenes from old episodes of cooking shows: the homey lighting, the tidy studio kitchen, and Julia or, later, Martha smiling with gentle confidence as she girded herself in mitts, opened the oven, and slid out a glistening whole chicken, golden brown and expertly trussed. The picture may have been a little grainy, but the bird was always perfect.
Or maybe you remember the Sunday dinners of your childhood, back when your poultry-perfecting grandmother ruled the roost. But then you grew up, and life got hectic, and whenever you got a hankering for a juicy bird, it was off to the supermarket rotisserie with you. We've all been there. By the time you fell in love with cooking, you realized you never did learn how Grandma got those plump legs and crispy wings to stay so perfectly in place.
We get it. That's why we at ChefSteps are here to teach you, step by step, how to truss a chicken the traditional way. It's easier than you think.
Prep Your Poultry
Before you begin, follow your recipe to get your bird all seasoned and ready to go. Then clear your work space, cut off about three feet of butcher's twine, clean off a sharp knife or some kitchen shears, and start trussing that chicken.
String the Wings
Lay the bird breast up on your work surface. Slip the twine down the back, under the bird, until it's just behind the wings. Adjust your twine until you have an even length on each side. Now pull both sides up from under the chicken's armpits. Wrap the string back around the wings and over the elbows so that when you pull the ends toward you, the twine holds the wings snug against the bird.
Bring your string down along the sides of the chicken, making sure it stays in place over the wings, and cross it under the bottom of the breast. The wings should now be secure.
Lace Up Those Legs
Push the legs up so that the tops of the thighs rest against the wings and the ends of the drumsticks cross under the breast. Keeping the legs in place, pull the string up over their narrowest point, then wrap it under the drumsticks and cross. (This should enclose the legs in a little loop.) Pull to remove any slack.
Flip, Cross, Tie It Off
Taking care not to lose your grip on the twine, flip the chicken so that the back faces up. Lift up the ends of the string, wrap one around the other, and pull taut to form a cross over the tail. Pull the twine tight to close up the cavity. Then tie off the twine with another knot, and cut off the excess.
Cook and Serve!
Just look at that beautiful bird! Take your trussed chicken and roast it on a bed of potatoes. Or barbecue it with your favorite sauce. Or poach it whole. However you cook it, it'll come out looking perfect -- just like it did for your grandma.
Watch to see the process in action: